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Crime The Courts

Prison Is For Dangerous Criminals, Not Hacktivists 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the keep-your-head-down dept.
In late 2011, defense contractor Stratfor suffered a cybersecurity breach that resulted in a leak of millions of internal emails. A few months later, the FBI arrested hacktivist Jeremy Hammond and several others for actions related to the breach. Hammond pleaded guilty to one count of violating the CFAA, and today his sentence was handed down: 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He said, [The prosecutors] have made it clear they are trying to send a message to others who come after me. A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face." Reader DavidGilbert99 adds, "Former LulzSec and Anonymous member Jake Davis argues that U.S. lawmakers need to take a leaf out of the U.K.'s legal system and not put Jeremy Hammond behind bars for his part in the hack of Stratfor. 'Jeremy Hammond has a lot to give society too. Prisons are for dangerous people that need to be segmented from the general population. Hackers are not dangerous, they are misunderstood, and while disciplinary action is of course necessary, there is nothing disciplined about locking the door on a young man's life for 10 years.'"
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Prison Is For Dangerous Criminals, Not Hacktivists

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:52PM (#45435785) Homepage Journal

    Here we have prison to punish people. It doesn't exist as a means to control risk by controlling dangerous people. We've collectively decided that we should put people in cells(and let them be raped) like it's telling 5 year olds to stand in the corner.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:56PM (#45435847) Homepage

      Worse: The really, really bad people in prison enjoy having all these non-violent young men in there to torture and rape. It's like handing them lollipops.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:30PM (#45436247)

        The worse criminal you are, the less punishment prison actually is. In the words of Richard Speck: [wikipedia.org] "If they knew what a good time I was having, they'd turn me loose."

        • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday November 15, 2013 @06:33PM (#45439399)

          The worse criminal you are, the less punishment prison actually is.

          It may be a punishment, but it's not a deterrent of any kind, in even the slightest. The fact is that most crimes are crimes of opportunity. Most offenders are first-time. They made a bad call, and they got busted. But our lack of focus on rehabilitation, the fact that somewhere around 80% of Americans are now near or below poverty guideline according to recent reports coming out now, suggests that the major motivator of criminal activity today is desperation. And we reward them for our society's lackluster economic performance, high expectations, taxes, and cost of living, pushing them to do it, by taking away any future potential to get a real job. Every job that pays much more than minimum wage requires a background check. If you have ever even been arrested, let alone charged with a crime, chances are good you will not get any job, regardless of qualifications, that's any better than burger flipping, telemarketing, or cleaning rich people's houses.

          And you know what that does? It pushes them into more crime. Prisons might as well be named Crime University. Everyone who's in will tell you there schemes. You go in for check fraud, and you come out knowing fifty new types of fraud, and no job prospects. It leads to one, inevitable conclusion.

          And people wonder why the whole goddamned country is falling down all around us? It's easy: We're a good Christian country. And as a good christian country, we punish and oppress, we guilt, we lie, and we shit on the poor and downtrodden, while offering them token charity and telling ourselves they're morally weak and thus deserve what's done to them. We turn a blind eye to the suffering of others.

          And then we wonder why record numbers of them are snapping, grabbing a gun, and going around shooting up schools, hospitals, and every other place where people congregate and there's a government presence. Because we don't let anyone cry, we don't help anyone who asks for it, and because they can't cry tears, and can't find help, they cry bullets, and find an outlet for their anger in the blood of innocent people.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:18PM (#45436103)

      Here where I live, prisons are privatized, with an extremely strong lobby. If a DA doesn't throw the book at defendants, they get replaced next election by one that will. If a judge doesn't rubber-stamp maximum sentences and keep a high conviction ratio, they also get voted out. Even the local police have "quotas" where they have to slap cuffs on x amount of people per outing or they end up being passed up for promotions by people with better arrest tallies.

      So, prisons are not for punishment; they are for profit. If you look at the two private prison companies, they actually have Apple-like growth in the past few years, with no upper bound in sight.

      Ironic this... even China is getting rid of its work/re-education camps, while we are getting them here in the US.

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:29PM (#45436237) Homepage Journal

        No one should ever have a government incentive to promote crime. Privatized prisons are exactly that. But enough of a radical that I believe that all government work should be direct hires, and that government contracts and privatization in general are a failure.

      • If a DA doesn't throw the book at defendants, they get replaced next election by one that will. If a judge doesn't rubber-stamp maximum sentences and keep a high conviction ratio, they also get voted out.

        that's not a problem w/ the system, it's problem with society. you are saying the system is giving society what it wants. after all it's the people that voting for those officials.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:19PM (#45436121)

      Well having a 5 year old stand in the corner does have a purpose more then just punishment.
      Normally when a 5 year old gets into trouble it is because they are over stimulated and over excited, and act without thinking. Having them go to the corner puts them in an environment with less stimulation, and lets them calm down a bit.

      However Prison doesn't have that effect, there is too much stimulation, and hardens the criminal. This is appreciate for people who are too dangerous to be in public, either because their crimes are dangerous, or are at a high risk of repeating the crime in public. However for a lot of these crimes that people get locked up in, isn't really worth it for them. House Arrest, where their movements are tracts and they can only go to designated places, is one good option. Monetary fines work too, and for some people, just getting yelled at is enough.

      The US has this tough on crime mentality, which doesn't work, and all it does is increase fear of the general public of getting put in jail for some petty crime they didn't really think things threw.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by i kan reed (749298)

        It's one of those "it's so bad that lots of alternatives are better" situations in the US.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dnavid (2842431)

        The US has this tough on crime mentality, which doesn't work, and all it does is increase fear of the general public of getting put in jail for some petty crime they didn't really think things threw.

        That may be true for the large majority of crimes and criminals, but that isn't true in the case of Jeremy Hammond. Jeremy Hammond is someone who doesn't even believe he committed a crime. He felt and apparently still feels a moral obligation to break the law, and only accidentally disclosed personal information. He's not someone that lacks the tools to be a productive member of society. He's not someone that would seem to benefit from any normal form of rehabilitation. He believes he's the good guy.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          He believes he's the good guy.

          So is he? We're pretty much at World War III: Internet Edition nowadays. Even if you don't agree with a particular hactivist, one might still argue that they're Afghans and the NSA and other Acronym Evils are the Soviet Union.

    • by intermodal (534361) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:27PM (#45436201) Homepage Journal

      That would be less problematic if our prison system at present weren't operated in such a fashion as to make these individuals even more dangerous and damaged than when they came in, and then continually discriminate afterwards in ways that make it unlikely for them to be successful after release. We really need to take a look at which countries successfully release prisoners who go on to lead lawful, fruitful lives, and then emulate those systems.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by i kan reed (749298)

        The sad thing is that these premises aren't lost on the people who study crime. The problem is almost entirely populist, which in the U.S. is a very hard force to counter.

      • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:15PM (#45436977) Homepage

        We really need to take a look at which countries successfully release prisoners who go on to lead lawful, fruitful lives, and then emulate those systems.

        Won't work.

        Not so long as being "tough on crime" wins votes.

        • Being tough on crime doesn't win votes, though. It's a common myth, but it isn't true. Making people scared of what might happen if you elect the other major party's candidate is what gets votes these days.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Prison, as you describe it, is managed without concern for the prisoners, as human beings. When as this decided collectively, as you assert?

      It seems to me that such a penal system is managed under a politically conservative ethic which puts the financial interests of those outside that system above society as a whole, at least if you believe that society has an interest in promoting general welfare. You can't expect that prisoners released from a system which ignores their needs, abilities and potential whi

    • by tlambert (566799) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:54PM (#45436661)

      Here we have prison to punish people. It doesn't exist as a means to control risk by controlling dangerous people. We've collectively decided that we should put people in cells(and let them be raped) like it's telling 5 year olds to stand in the corner.

      Prison is not primarily to punish. I know when someone is a victim of a crime, they like to believe it exists to punish criminals. That's not what is intended.

      The intent of any punitive action by a court is to discourage an activity in such a way that the rest of society doesn't engage in the behaviour.

      Think about it: do the police arrive before a crime and prevent it, or do they show up afterwards? Do we penalize manslaughter to a lesser degree because we think the victim is any less dead than if it had been second or first degree murder instead? Punishment is clearly intended to send a message to the rest of society, not make the victim or the victims families feel better about themselves.

      The message is clearly intended as "Don't do this; if you get caught, this is what will happen to you, and you should fear that penalty enough that you don't engage in the proscribed behaviour". We tend to lose sight of this because of cases that drag on for years, rather than having the penalty assessed immediately; delayed punishment = delayed threat. But until Tom Cruise starts showing up at your house to prevent murders which you are about to commit, in no way is the system about punishing criminals.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:13PM (#45436939)

      Here we have prison to punish people. It doesn't exist as a means to control risk by controlling dangerous people. We've collectively decided that we should put people in cells(and let them be raped) like it's telling 5 year olds to stand in the corner.

      Officially, there are five reasons for incarceration (the five theories of punishment)...


      1.    
      2. Incapacitation. For as long as you're locked up, you're generally unable to commit new offenses against society. (This is obviously not entirely true, as inmate-on-inmate violence, and less frequently inmate-on-corrections-staff violence, etc., can lead to "new charges," but even then, generally, the extent of the damage is almost always constrained to within the institution.) No Internet access. What electronics are available, are extremely limited. (Inmates now have, in several states, tablet computers, but they receive email, purchase MP3s, etc, through kiosks...) Incoming and outgoing non-legal mail is searched and read. Phone calls are monitored. Visitors go through metal detectors (and often backscatter X-ray machines, etc), and inmates are stripsearched coming back from visits. Etc. (It's not perfect -- cell phones are regularly smuggled in, for instance -- but incarceration severely curtails most inmates' ability to F with society.)
      3.    

      4. Specific deterrence. Prison is designed to convince you not to do that shit again.
      5.    

      6. General deterrence. Prison sentences are supposed to communicate to society, "this is what you risk if you do the same shit that guy did."
      7.    

      8. Rehabilitation. It's fashionable to be, like, "what rehabilitation?!" But programs are available for those who want to participate. Many in California are getting, e.g., GEDs, degrees from Chaffey College and other programs, etc. (that they -- or more likely their loved ones -- pay for; it's not at taxpayer expense, they eliminated that in the 80s). Hell, even Manson girl Leslie Van Houten got her masters [cielodrive.com] in prison, in 2012... Recidivism numbers show that inmates who take advantage of the programs available tend to come back through the revolving door at a statistically significant lower rate...
      9.    

      10. Retribution. Yeah, punishment is actually one of the goals of imprisonment. Whodathunk.

      Most, if not all, of those goals are met by incarcerating even 'hacktivists,' though I personally think a 10 year sentence is way overboard (especially if it's federal, where there's no "parole board" and the most "good time" credit that can be earned is 15% -- the same California allows "serious" or "violent" first strikers (non-serious, non-violent offenders can serve as little as 50% of their sentence with "good time," 1/3 of the sentence if they're accepted into a fire camp and bust their ass fighting wildfires for at least a year of their sentence...)

    • Even worse: prisons here are profitable ventures. Prisoners are a valuable commodity. We have an entire industry of prisons, lawyers, guards, and logistics that requires a steady supply of them. Sadly, it's a growth industry as well.

    • Here we have prison to punish people. It doesn't exist as a means to control risk by controlling dangerous people. We've collectively decided that we should put people in cells(and let them be raped) like it's telling 5 year olds to stand in the corner.

      On your last point, it would be real nice if all these high priced (compared to what they would be paid for any other work) guards were actually preventing contraban and assaults in the prisons, but they seem to facilitate that more than preventing it.

      On the overall point, reasons why people are sent to prison and how long they are sentenced are all over the place and change over time. The individual in question here already had one stay in prison on a similar charge. Maybe Hammond should count his bless

  • "misunderstood"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaHat (247651) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:54PM (#45435801) Homepage

    Why just limit that label to hackers?

    "It's just a misunderstanding that makes you think she is dead, sure you have a body that lacks a pulse..."

    "Why yes, I did burn down that orphanage... but you misunderstand why."

    "No officer, I did have a lot to drink tonight, but you don't understand that my driving abilities get better when I'm wasted!"

    We are not talking about an accidently committed crime here... my understanding is he deliberately did what he did... so should be punished hard as a reminder.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Funny examples. If the person who killed the woman actually didn't understand that his actions would cause her death (or even injury), then no crime was committed at all.

      If the guy who burned the orphanage down HONESTLY believed that the children were non-human demons out to destroy humanity (for example), then confinement in a mental health facility (with humane and gentle treatment) is far more appropriate than prison.

      The DUI guy may be better served by mandatory rehab. Certainly society will be since he

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:54PM (#45435813)

    If only he was a bank VP. Then all crimes are forgiven with a sizable bonus.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Not *all* crimes.. Just those which lead to profit... Steal from the company and it's the slammer for you.

  • Fuck off (Score:5, Informative)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:55PM (#45435819) Homepage Journal
    Hackers are not dangerous, they are misunderstood,

    You steal my personal data, sell it to someone else who uses that data to commit crimes, you are a dangerous person.

    Stop trying to make excuses when people commit crimes. They're a criminal, pure and simple.
    • Re:Fuck off (Score:4, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:57PM (#45435855) Homepage Journal

      Motive is relevant when considering crimes. It's the difference between first degree murder and involuntary manslaughter(or even justified self-defense).

    • by DaHat (247651)

      Bingo!

      Worse, if we go down this road... just imagine the explosion we'd expect to see in the prison industry.

      Beyond the max & super-max prisons for the 'dangerous'... hackers would end up at 'summer camp' prisons where they rehabilitate by learning new languages, white collar criminals go away to 'resort prisons' where they are scolded more about not getting caught, while drunk drivers locked up in local bars to help put them off the drink.

    • Isn't there a good case for prison reform on some level though?

      I agree that what was done should be illegal, but, I don't think that our prison system treats prisoners like people, and haven't for a long time. Even well before the privatization of prison.

    • Re:Fuck off (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aeranvar (2589619) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:09PM (#45435989)
      I don't see anyone saying that hackers aren't criminals or that Jeremy Hammond didn't deserve to go to prison. What they're saying is that criminals and dangerous people are sets that overlap, but that don't totally overlap. Or, another way to put it: Criminals aren't dangerous. Dangerous criminals are dangerous. Some hackers might be dangerous. Some hackers might not be dangerous. For hackers that are dangerous, 10 years in prison might be appropriate. For hackers that aren't dangerous, like those engaged in political protest, 10 years in prison is overkill.
      • by dwillden (521345)
        So non violent criminals don't belong in prison? Those who commit bank fraud, or embezzle funds from their employers, Those who scam elderly out of their life savings, those who sell national secrets to our enemies. They aren't violent/dangerous people or crimes. So they don't belong in prison? Then where do they belong? Out on the street, free to commit more crimes.

        You do the crime, you damned well better be ready to do the time. We do have some different styles of prisons but for the most part we do
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aeranvar (2589619)
          You might want to read my post a little more carefully. I realize that it's easy to skip over the first sentence, where I stated that "I don't see anyone saying that hackers aren't criminals or that Jeremy Hammond doesn't deserve to go to prison."

          The claim that I was making was that the prison sentence was excessive (probably because the Judge's husband was a victim of the crime). Somewhere in the 2-4 year range would probably make more sense.
      • by Chas (5144)

        Sorry but there are actually two separate arguments here:

        Violent vs non-violent offenders.

        Hammond's criminal record shows that he's been BOTH types in the past.

        Anyhow, this sort of thing is solved by the various forms of prisoner segregation already in place in the prison system.
        So Hammond probably won't be going to a Super-Max. And he probably won't be housed in a violent offenders' wing.

        As such, the non-violent thread he represents to society is silenced.

        The second is a critique of sentencing guidelines.

    • You steal my personal data, sell it to someone else who uses that data to commit crimes, you are a dangerous person.

      Your data is not personal if it has ever been shared outside of machines you own. If your data can be used by someone else to harm you or others, then the insecure system is what is dangerous, not the alleged criminal. We're going to have to come around and face the facts. It's not the hackers that are misunderstood: People don't understand the nature of information.

      • Re:Fuck off (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:19PM (#45436125) Homepage Journal
        then the insecure system is what is dangerous, not the alleged criminal.

        There is no alleging about it. People who deliberately break into someone else's systems are criminals. By your logic if I leave my door unlocked and you walk in and steal my stuff, I'm the one at fault. Nice way to blame the victim. Do I need to drag out the rape example?
        • This "Oh the system is insecure so I should be allowed to hack it!" Really? Is that ok with your house too? Because it is insecure. You have shitty physical security, everyone does. Good physical security is expensive and a pain in the butt, and perfect physical security is impossible.

          So I can break in to your house, without much trouble. Your lock is no good. Unless you have a high security lock (which costs like $200 per lock), I can just get a bump key and get in. You have an alarm? That's cute, it is ju

      • You steal my personal data, sell it to someone else who uses that data to commit crimes, you are a dangerous person.

        Your data is not personal if it has ever been shared outside of machines you own. If your data can be used by someone else to harm you or others, then the insecure system is what is dangerous, not the alleged criminal. We're going to have to come around and face the facts. It's not the hackers that are misunderstood: People don't understand the nature of information.

        Data wants to be stolen! Just look at the way it's dressed!

    • No, you fuck off (Score:5, Insightful)

      by deanklear (2529024) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:28PM (#45436219)

      You steal my personal data, sell it to someone else who uses that data to commit crimes, you are a dangerous person.

      When Google and Facebook do this for a profit, hide the data collection behind an EULA, and then sell your personal data to third parties, they are called geniuses and made billionaires.

      Furthermore, the individual in question did not seek to make a profit. You can disagree with his methods, but back when the scales of justice were still capable of measuring anything at all, these sort of considerations were commonly implemented.

      Stop trying to make excuses when people commit crimes. They're a criminal, pure and simple.

      In 1750: "Stop making excuses for those who commit treason against the King. They are criminals, pure and simple."

      In 1850: "Stop making excuses for those people who steal slaves under the guise of making them free. They are criminals, pure and simple."

      In 1950: "Stop making excuses for those people who participate in race riots. They are criminals, pure and simple."

      Legitimate power and systems of law do not justify themselves without some reasoning. So can you tell me why people who commit physical assaults, armed robberies, and sexual assaults should see less jail time that someone who made a copy of an email archive to try and expose overreach of our privatized military economy?

      How is putting this individual in prison going to

      1) repair the damage they are accused of
      2) improve society at large
      3) cost effectively return them to society

      Questions 1-3 are routinely ignored because the American incarceration system is not designed to help American society. It causes more harm than good, has shoved millions of people into a cycle of poverty and violence that few escape from, and the costs (upwards of 60-100k per prisoner per year) to perpetuate the broken system are far more than simpler, more humane justice systems found throughout the industrialized world.

      This is not 1600. America is not a puritan state. Keep your dead ideas about corporal punishment in the distant past where they belong.

      • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:37PM (#45436359) Journal

        I wish I had mod points. The only thing I would add to this is:

        1. The cost of keeping people in prison and the rise of the prison-industrial complex. People make millions off of other Americans' misery.

        2. The absolute disgrace of sentencing CHILDREN to adult prison. No attempt at rehabilitation. No effort made to protect their freedoms - which is unconscionable, as we remove their rights to pursue their particular happiness.

        The prison system in the United States should make each and every one of us physically ill.

      • Re:No, you fuck off (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dave562 (969951) on Friday November 15, 2013 @05:36PM (#45438951) Journal

        How is putting this individual in prison going to

        1) repair the damage they are accused of
        2) improve society at large
        3) cost effectively return them to society

        I was a teenager in the 1990s and active in the computer underground, to the point where I was hacking systems, committing phone fraud, pirating warez, the whole nine yards. As I approached my 18th birthday, I was faced with a decision. Either I could continue breaking the law and face the consequences, or I could grow up. In my case, even a couple of decades ago, it was obvious that there were very real consequences to what I was doing. I was a known entity to the authorities, to the point where AT&T security had conversations with my parents and told them to get me under control, or they would. So I quit. I leveraged the knowledge I gained to get a job in IT. Now I make good money and manage a team of people.

        By putting this guy in prison, my decision has been re-enforced as being the "right" decision. It probably will serve to dissuade a few others from engaging in serious crimes as well. It sucks to get 10 years, but there is no way that the guy did not know he was taking risks by doing what he was doing. "You roll the dice, you take your chances." fits in this situation.

        In this day and age, "security researcher" is a valid career path. There are plenty of EASY and legal ways to do security research (virtualization, etc) that do not require doing pen tests on systems that you do not own, and do not have authorization to exploit. The whole mythos around the "harmless, curious hacker" is breaking down. Back in the day when the only systems out there were university systems or corporate systems, there was some validity to "having to" hack systems in order to learn. These days, with easy access to *nix systems, Windows boxes, browsers of all flavors, IDEs, compilers, etc, etc, etc... there is no "intellectual or educational" reason to go out and compromise other systems.

        To turn the question around, what good comes from giving someone a free pass to hack Stratfor?

    • by schlachter (862210) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:53PM (#45436643)

      Our revolutionary fore fathers here the USA were criminals...but they weren't necessarily wrong.
      Kavorkian was a criminal for his assisted suicides, but now everyone is starting to do it.
      Getting a blow job in a dozen states in the USA makes you a criminal, pure and simple. don't try to make excuses for your crimes.
      Until 1969, letting a black man into a white establishment was a crime, pure and simple.
      Drinking alcohol made you a criminal in the US for awhile. In many parts of the world, it still does.
      Smoking up used to be totally fine in the US, but for the past 70-80 yrs suddenly you were a criminal for doing it. ...I could go on and on...

      Being a criminal as defined by your society and your actions doesn't mean you should be locked away forever

      Your black and white, unwavering statements showcase your limited ability to empathize or see the larger way in which the world works. It's just childish.

    • by k31bang (672440)

      Yeah but ten years in prison is pushing it. Is cracking a computer system really more serious than manslaughter?

  • by themushroom (197365) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:55PM (#45435825) Homepage

    a) Nonviolent crimes get stiffer sentences than violent crimes "to send a message". That hard crime pays?
    b) If there's any political motivation by the prosecution or court, expect to fare worse than a child rapist in sentencing.
    c) I thought LulzSec and Anonymous were opposing gangs with the occasional common goal?

    • by Enry (630)

      Hard crime is generally already morally reprehensible. "Softer" crimes like this one are a bit more morally ambisuous and thus the punishment serves as a deterrent.

      It's the difference between saying "If I kill this person, not only is it wrong, but I'll go to prison" and "If I steal data from this company/person/government, I'll go to prison for a long long time. Do I really want to do that?"

      • Murder: A lawyer can say "this was justifiable homicide" or "he was standing his ground" or "it was temporary insanity" or "he had too much sugar in his diet." You get a suspended sentence in Club Med.

        Hactivisim: You don't get those defenses. You get 10-25 in federal PMITA prison.

        And quickly the morally wrong answer looks better than the socially right answer.

        • by Enry (630)

          The hactivist got legal representation the same as the murderer. If there were extenuating circumstances (they h4xx0r3d me first!) then that can be brought up during trial.

          Activist (ok, civil disobedient) implies that they know what they're doing is legally wrong and is willing t accept the consequences of their actions. Is 10 years a bit much? Yes. Will it deter future crime? Probably. Does it get people talking about legal rights in this country? Looks like it.

        • Hactivisim: You don't get those defenses. You get 10-25 in federal PMITA prison.

          except he didn't get 10-25, he got 10, which will probably end up being about 3. he's also not going to a PMITA prison.

        • by KiloByte (825081)

          Murder: A lawyer can say "this was justifiable homicide" or "he was standing his ground"

          Tell me, how is self-defense "murder"?

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      a) Nonviolent crimes are often repeated, and their sentences are added together. Committing 17 counts of fraud is a Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas, but 17 counts of murder is rare even in Detroit.

      b) That's because when politics get involved, people demand a perception of justice more than they demand actual justice. [tumblr.com]

      c) Anonymous' only real goal is to ignore rules and social standards while hiding behind a mask and a proxy. LulzSec's goal is to gain infamy while carrying popular support. There's no reason why

    • Any time one of these guys say they're "trying to send a message", what they're really saying is "I'm punishing you for crimes other people committed". If courts are about justice, "trying to send a message" should result in an immediate, successful victory in appeals court.

  • by metrix007 (200091) on Friday November 15, 2013 @01:55PM (#45435827)

    There are so many problems with prisons in this country it's not funny.

    Lets see...

    • Non dangerous criminals go to prison and become hardened criminals, instead of being punished in a suitable way and giving back to the community
    • Those scary hackers and pirates get more prison time than rapists and in some caes murderers
    • You can go to prison for teaching someone how to beat a lie detector test. That is essentially a travesty because of what it indicates
    • Prison is used a a deterrent, so far too often the punishment does not fit the crime or anywhere near it. Justice indeed.
    • Prison is meant to be about rehabilitation, in part. If someone is released back into society, they are considered rehabilitated. Yet, they lose the right to vote.

    I'm sure there's more....

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cyberchondriac (456626) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:05PM (#45435947) Journal
    "Misunderstood"? Wow, that's a mantra for the far, far, left. "Society is just so mean, he's misunderstood"..
    I have no issue stating that prisons are over populated with people who are not physically dangerous, and/or shouldn't be there (guys busted for pot for example) but saying they're "misunderstood" is akin to saying they're just children who didn't know any better. Um, a little personal responsibility please? There still must be some repercussions, commensurate to the hacking/stealing/damage they perpetrated.
  • Screw 'em then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is why people should stick to more conventional terrorism, like bombs and murder. Then the ROI is far better.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:10PM (#45436003)

    If we make it too costly for American hacktivists to do their work here, then someone's just going to offshore the job of breaking into important industrial military complex computers to China.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:16PM (#45436093)

    The difference, of course, is dangerous to who?

    Being dangerous to authority is much worse than being dangerous to the public, and is treated accordingly.

    • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:40PM (#45436403) Homepage Journal

      I screwed up and posted, so I can't mod you up.

      One needs to understand the motives of the state

      Violent, random criminals are the best kind of criminals for politicians. Thugs _make the case_ that the government needs more power to keep people safe.

      People like Snowden are govt's worse nightmare. He hasn't hurt anyone at all, but he did blow the lid off of a bunch of stuff the govt was doing, which ranged from blatantly illegal to making govt look petty/incompetent.

      Snowden threatens _government_ legitimacy, and that is why he is a huge priority for the Feds.

  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:24PM (#45436185) Homepage Journal

    I think there's an argument to be made that people who commit assaults or other acts of violence against others are an entirely different class of individual than people who run pyramid schemes, hack web sites, etc.

    There -is- an aspect of prison that says "we're going to keep this person out of society for a while as a way to protect society". Taking phones/internet away from a cracker is more than sufficient to protect society, and arguably is a significant punitive action against someone with the time/skills/interests to be successful.

    People who commit mail fraud or steal long distance shouldn't share cell space with sex predators, murderers, etc. It's not in the interests of society, the individuals in question, or any efforts at reforming criminals prior to re-introduction to society.

    What's going to happen to a nerd in prison is that they'll do anything possible to survive. Historically, hackers have joined up with mafia or gangs for _physical_ protection, and in exchange, provide black-hat services to the groups providing them with protection.

    This is NOT how you reform geeks. This plunges them deeper into the realm of criminal enterprise, with higher stakes, and more damage to everyone.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      Historically, hackers have joined up with mafia or gangs for _physical_ protection, and in exchange, provide black-hat services to the groups providing them with protection.

      While, I aggree with the sentiment, is there any actual evidence of that?

    • Taking phones/internet away from a cracker is more than sufficient to protect society

      Why you gotta get all racial up in here?

  • Prison is for dangerous people, but I suspect many are adding a few caveats.

    Let me alter it so that it's more accurate:

    "Prison is for people who are dangerous, or don't represent my political views and break into computers. i.e. If someone breaks into the Tea Party's computers, they don't deserve jail. That would be just vengeance and totally unjust. But if a person broke into the computers of Occupy and damaged them to stop coordinating of a protest that should be punished with jail time."

    I see this attitu

  • I can allow that certain cases of hacking are vastly over-sentenced by the justice system. However, you've got to be more specific by what you consider a hacktivist before I consider them not a criminal. If you break into a system, steal data, and then flaunt the data as proof that the system's owner is incompetent, corrupt, insecure, whatever, then okay. If you also use some of that data (i.e. credit cards) to charge innocent / unsuspecting / unrelated people $700,000, even if it goes to charity, that's cr
  • by Chas (5144) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:32PM (#45436271) Homepage Journal

    Okay, I happen to be VERY familiar with Jeremy Hammond (for someone who isn't part of his butt-kissing crew). I associated with him for a couple years in hacking circles in the mid-2000's. My opinion of him isn't very high. And I can't tell you what I think of his ethics, as he has none. He's someone who's constantly looking for an enemy to somehow oppress him and fight against.

    This argument MIGHT hold water if this was Hammond's first offense. It isn't.

    He was expelled from college for a hacking incident. Not for the hack itself, but for installing back doors into the systems and then failing to disclose them when he came forward to "teach the admins" about the methods he'd used to get into the systems in the first place.

    He assaulted a Chicago city cop during a gay pride parade in 2004 while trying to confront a heckler.

    He was fired from his job at a Mac consultancy in the Chicago area after teaching people how to hack into systems using the consultancy's servers as guinea pigs (machines that held LIVE CUSTOMER DATA).

    He and a cohort looted the coffers of the Chicago Communist Party after a failed attempt to take control.

    He's had multiple arrests as a public nuisance.

    He and a group of his erstwhile friends hacked a site called Protest Warrior and stole credit cards. And he left such a bad taste in these friends' mouths that one of them rolled on him to the FBI. He was caught, prosecuted and sent to jail for 3 years (got out after 2 on good behavior).

    After getting out he was busted for assaulting a holocaust denier in a public establishment.

    He was busted for theft and destruction of property during the Chicago bid to host the Olympics.

    And, what did he do? He hacked Stratfor and stole credit card numbers (with intent to use) AGAIN.

    So what are we supposed to do? Impose a "no computers, no cell phones" sentence on him? In this day and age it's practically impossible to enforce.
    There's also the fact that he's a repeat offender.

    Is he really and truly PHYSICALLY dangerous? No. But prison isn't about simply physical protection of society. It's also about deterring those who abuse society on a constant basis.

    And Jeremy Hammond is one such abusive element. He's a thug with a martyr complex. He wants to feel important, authoritative and in control. He wants to be seen as a "rebel". The fact is, he's a script kiddie, using the work of others and trying to make it appear as if he's some vastly knowledgeable authority. He has only a thin veneer of social skills to get by on, and basically defaults to "smash and grab" when he doesn't get his way.

    In short, he's a boil on the butt of society. And prison is about the only place for him.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Friday November 15, 2013 @02:33PM (#45436305)
    How about posting the real reason he was given such a stiff penalty!

    This isn't his first hacking charge nor his first run in with police.

    His rap sheet is as long as my arm, with charges ranging from hacking and using stolen credit cards to assault. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Hammond#Arrests_and_criminal_history [wikipedia.org]

    My guess is this harsh sentence stems from the Stratfor hack as well.
  • It is for non-violent drug offenders. And a whole slew of other generally victimless crimes. Otherwise who would support the prison/industrial complex?

  • Mean "time served / Offense in the US
    12yrs / Murder
    6.5yrs / Sexual Assault
    3.5yrs / Aggravated assault
    1.75yrs / Burglary

    So hacking is slightly worse than Rape but not quite murder. I wonder if George Friedman would trade?

  • Someone be sure to tell this to the prosecutors of the Aaron Swartz [wikipedia.org] case before something really bad happens. Oh wait...

  • 'Making an example' of someone with an excessive, unusually long punishment, to me, sounds inherently unconstitutional.

    It /should/ be easy ground for an appeal of the sentence if the judge allowed external factors like 'sending a message to others' to unduly influence his decisions.

  • Prison is for people who break laws that have been enacted by duly elected people and have a prison tern attached to those laws. There is an very of saying "don't do the crime if you can't do the time".

  • by leereyno (32197) on Friday November 15, 2013 @03:40PM (#45437319) Homepage Journal

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

    Bad people don't get a pass just cause they like computers.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:15PM (#45437859)

    If you are going to base the argument around who needs to be separated from society, there's MORE reason to put hackers in a prison than most other criminals there - because a hacker can easily affect tens of thousands of people, unlike a criminal who can only really affect a handful. Being in prison is the only sure way to control computer access for hackers.

    If you want to argue there needs to be a separate place to put hackers because they don't deserve to be at the mercy or violent hackers, well that's why we have white collar prisons is it not? There were "soft targets" going to prison long before hackers.

  • by MugenEJ8 (1788490) on Friday November 15, 2013 @04:45PM (#45438293)
    Having been a guest of the Arizona State and Maricopa County, I have some input here.

    Consider the following:
    - I was locked up on non-aggressive felony charges, so I was classified to do my time in the Graham unit @ Safford which is classed as a level 2 yard.
    - There are level 1 yards which are even less intimidating than the one I was locked up at
    - I was classified at Alhambra which is considered a 1-5 (Due to the fact all convicts get sorted through that facility, non- & aggressive inmates are all housed together, with the exception of chomo's and rapists who get private handling for obvious reasons)
    - I am a thin, tall and relatively quiet individual with a good intellect and gentle demeanor

    The Graham yard was a breeze. It's laid out like a military base, with barracks for inmate bunks, a gym, a music room, a library, two soccer fields and a baseball diamond. The bathrooms/showers are private and not open to the world, you had a modicum of privacy while you were washing your ass, and no, inmates don't follow you in expecting you to drop the soap.

    When I first arrived, just like county, you're introduced to your race "Head" and "Second Head" which are the political heads who you handle grievances if ever there's a problem between you and another inmate. Individual races' are held accountable for their own group if the beef is internal or inter-racial. For instance, if a wood (caucasian) stole from another wood, the heads would deal out the punishment. If a wood stole from a paisa (Mexican national), the two race heads would convene and each race would deal out the punishment to their own based on what was agreed upon. This 'political' system exists in all jails, even if the race separation is different among regions of the US, but exists to handle the cases I mentioned above. During my intake and introduction to my race, it was obvious this system helps defend a new inmate from another inmate from taking advantage of them at first glance. However over time, the shitty individual who wants to steal and lie to their own heads, cause trouble and in general be a dick, will be blackballed and at that point you're on your own.

    Alhambra was a different story while I was being classified. I stayed there for 12 days, and it was a 23h/1h lock down with 11 other inmates in the cell. The racial system exists, but as there are no inmates that stay permanently at that facility (unless you're a rehabilitated 20+ year sentence inmate, then you call Alhambra home), there are no heads or groups. Everyone is rogue and keeps to themselves unless you're being an asshole.

    So for those out there that think all prisons are equal, or that by going to prison, you by default are the target of rape just because you showed up, could not be more incorrect. The things I talked about above hold true for most non-violent classified yards, levels 1-2, and even into 3 yards where some first time violent inmates end up. I know people that have done time in a higher security system, and all the same politics and protections from your race still exist. I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that if you're truly a shitty person, you don't learn from your mistakes, and you want to continue trying to play criminal in a criminal population, you get what you deserve.

    Now back to the article. I do think there are too many people being locked up for things that people should no longer be locked up for. For example, weed and paraphernalia charges shouldn't put a person in the system. Dangerous drugs, yes, absolutely for repeat offenders. Hacktivists, and non-violent offenders, it's a stickier subject. There has to be recourse, and people have to be deterred from doing it, but if restitution is ruled against me for a million dollars, and I don't receive any prison time what good does that do? I'm never going to be able to pay off a restitution order like that in any reasonable amount of time, so I'll say f*ck it and just keep on doing what I did to get there in the first place
  • Hacking in itself should not be a crime. I would not put a person in prison for hacking unless theft was also involved such as bank accounts or credit card charges. But there are other nonviolent crimes for which prison may be good answer. for example using crack or heroin automatically is seen as advocating drug use by vulnerable people. One crack addict can easily create a dozen more before he dies or is stuck in rehab or prison or a mental facility. There are plenty of people that will break

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